Kyle Hermans Take Home Test #1 1. With the invention of photography there were many pioneers looking to make there names known and come up with the best way of taking pictures first. With many names out there such as Fox Talbot , Louis Daguerre and Nicephore Niepce. All of these men came up with several ways of taking and making photos and themselves pioneered some art styles with photography. They went to some crazy extents and discovered several ways by finding the correct combination of light, paper or metal , and chemicals.
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Louis Daguerre was no exception to finding crazy ways to make pictures come to forwishen. As Beaumont Newhall says in The History of Photography that Daguerre’s process was by taking a shiny piece of silver and polished it then covered it in iodine and put it in a camera obscura and then heated it with mercury and fixed it with salt. (p.
18) This process created a Daguerreotype which created some of the first images. Daguerre seemed to be trying to recreate a painting but by capturing light. At least that’s what it seems like from his photos he took. Such as his image Still Life, this was clearly before conventional photography rules were created so a lot seems to be going on in the images and seems a little busy for most photographs. But this clearly seems to be the start of still life photography as it has that more messy painting esque feel to it. He seemed to take after his partner who died just before the creation of the Daguerreotype, Nicephore Niepce. Now, Nicephore Niepce was trying to make photographs a lot longer than Daguerre, but he never got to a true clear image, but he was very close to doing so. He ended up making his photos with a very interesting but hard process.
Newhall describes it from Sir Humphry Davy’s Journal as either white paper or leather with nitrate of silver on it so when the paper or leather is exposed to light the light darkens that area but the shadowed areas stay white.(p. 13) Niepce seemed to be after the same way of trying to make a painting like image with a photo the way Daguerre tried to do so. If you look at his image named set table it has a very painting look to it centered on one main part that pops but many tiny individual objects also in focus that each can be examined and looked at but there’s no direct part that truly draws the attention.
Both of these men truly tried to make painting like photos which in contrast is where Talbot is a very different in his style to them. Fox Talbot a man who had no relation to either Daguerre or Niepce also tried very hard to claim his name in photography and did well himself. He did so in a way that shaped photography forever as he created negatives. His process was much different as he figured out how to make negatives of images that could be used to make positives at later dates.
Newhall says in the history of Photography “ He bathed paper with a weak solution of common salt and then, after it had dried, with a strong solution of silver nitrate. These chemicals reacted to form silver chloride, a light-sensitive salt insoluble in water, within the paper structure…shadowgraph. Today we should call a negative… talbot described how a positive image could be made from the negative.” (P. 19-20) This was clearly a very different process than how the french were trying to do so.
If you look at his image Lacock Abbey you can see how his photos too followed a much more photographic feeling seeming to pave the way for rule of thirds and composition of photographs. Though his images like Niepce seemed to come out much more faded than Daguerre’sSo comparing the style of the photos and process to make you can see that during the first days of photography these men pioneering were all trying to make claims in photography and all of them did. They all brought something new to the table and made photography what it is today. 2.
Susan Sontag has many great points about what photography is as in what its full potential can be. I can see through many of her points what photography can truly be much more than what we initially perceive it to be. Such as photography being a direct extension of a object, photography is a form of supervision , photography can have you see something before you experience it, and photography captures reality. These points are not all relevant in all images but can be seen in multiple different images. The idea that an image is a direct extension can truly be seen well by seeing that an image is now captured that object maybe something that would have been long ago forgotten, but now it has the potential as well to give you an emotional response. In the image Rendlesham TV by Liam Frankland you can clearly see a tv in the middle of the woods. This is in something Frankland calls lost and found photography.
It’s very objectively based what he’s done here is as it seems with Sontag’s idea extend a object with the image. This photo extends the life of an object as this would have probably gotten forgotten about in time but now it has a chance to be seen by others. As well it allows an extension of the object that it never could have really given without a photograph of it, an emotional response. It allows the image to give you what art does and that’s have an emotional response.
For me I get a mysterious and curious vibe or feeling from the photo that draws me and makes me wonder. As Susan Sontag says in On Photography “ Photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we are shown a photograph of it.
” (p. 5) As someone who loves history this for me is a very interesting point. During times of war or just big historical moments this point can make a big impact. Like the image The Burning Monk, 1963 by Malcolm Browne. This image is a hard one to look at right off the bat, it’s a very gruesome photo of monks protesting the vietnam war by lighting one of their fellow monks on fire and watching him die. This is a very effective image of documentation and providing evidence especially for the horrible effects that came out of the vietnam war.
It captures for the future to see an image that would provide evidence for future generations or even people at the time to see just how bad war and/or the world can really be. In some ways you could compare it to her other point of seeing something before you can experience it. Obviously most of the average population doesn’t want to experience a burning monk in front of their eyes, but what that image did allow was for something to not be experience but to be seen. Other examples of this can be world photography of places you have not gone as a much more tame example. You may not have ever traveled but you can see what the world without experiencing it through photography. This can be seen in the image The great sand dunes of Chegaga in the Moroccan Sahara desert by Friedel Rother, now this image may just be from a travel abroad website but he is able to do something most of us couldn’t do and thats share the image of a place most people have not been to and its possible to go and visit the sahara and get the experience, but we are able to see through this image what the sahara looks like before even being able to go there. Thats actually really amazing as for a relatively new concept in the idea of all human history this allows for a lot of possibilities of ideas to be seen.
The final point that sontag made was on the idea of capturing reality. Images like being a direct extension of an object can capture time and reality. Sontag put it best as photography itself created a new way to look for information and it cuts out a little point in space and time.(p. 22) This is very well true as it was the invention that helped you literally capture an accurate image of reality by capturing the light.
This can be seen with any of the photos taken by nasa of the apollo 11 moon landing. These caught a real world event on another solid ground object orbiting the earth our moon. This caught the reality of an event viewed around the world because of how big of a deal it was. Something that happened twenty nine years before I was born and I am able to see the reality of this event. Similar to how photographs let you see before you experience this captures the reality of an event that I will never get to experience.
As well as this captures the reality of something incredible that almost doesn’t seem attainable but it provided evidence as we talked about earlier of this historical moment. Photography is a crazy invention that lets us do some amazing things that seem almost impossible. Whether it’s for art, documentation or showing the world, it allows some amazing things and Sontag really was aware of this. She pointed out just all the amazing uses and reasons why photography is so important.
Still now it has these uses and continues to evolve and find even more valued uses in our society. 3. Roland Barthes talks about two separate ideas in photography, he discusses studium and punctum. Studium is the idea of an initial excitement with a photo where as punctum is more about the puncturing blow of the photo what draws your attention even further with a detail that completes the image. This can be seen in several photos. Julia Margaret Cameron’s Image Whisper of the Muse is a perfect example of this for me. What draws me in or the studium is the old man he’s very clear and I just find his facial expression and look just very appealing to look at as it really draws me in and makes me admire the way he holds the fiddle and examines it really draws a soft emotion for me. It’s hard to look away from his soft view but what really hits with punctum is the two little girls.
They both have much harsher and sadder looking faces but they draw much softer colors. I really like this detail as it contrasts the image really well and almost separates the man from the girls knowing they are separate but showing the importance of both to the image. This to me this image really gets a stronger reaction of studium and punctum with images than most others for me. Another Image I can see this with is Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico by Ansel Adams. As Roland Barthes says in Camera Lucida Reflections on photography “ The studium is the very wide field of unconcerned desire, of various interests , of inconsequential taste: I like/ I don’t like.”(p. 27) and what I like about this photo is just the vast open layout of the background of the sky and the mountains it’s just such a beautiful setting that I can’t help it I just get drawn in by it.
What really gets me and makes me stay to look at the image is how perfect the light from the moon seems to look down on this little cemetery. The lighting too is just perfect the way it falls on the cemetery and lights it and separates it into another layer like how the sagebrush below and the open area behind and the mountain and the sky it becomes the most distinguished layer but still makes the image whole. The last image I wanna talk about is Sally Mann’s Candy Cigarette. In this image the studium for me is just the powerful stances each of the kids have.
The main girl in her focus may have a candy cigarette but she’s got that leaned back cool attitude that you would see with someone smoking a cigarette. As well there is the other girl doing a power stance right next to her and blurred in the background it seems to be boy on stilts and to me this is just very interesting since there’s just so much going on. The punctum for me though is I get a very emotional response from the kids acting like adults with the way they hold themselves and the actions. As Barthes says that the punctum is just the little detail that pushes the image forward and pricks you. (p. 25) For me thats this little detail of the image just the cigarette adding this clear idea of acting “ grown up” that so many of us tried to do as a child. Either we tried on parents clothes, played cops and robbers or just various other mimicries.
To come back to the idea of punctum and studium, both are very important to look for when viewing an image. Both are individual as well what I get as a studium or punctum may not be for another individual, in fact it most likely won’t. These three images I discussed are to me great examples of both studium and punctum, they gave me many things I liked and had those fine details that pushed the image forward